Wednesday, June 26, 2013



            Faith, hope and love.  I’ve written about faith in the last two entries of this blog.   I briefly touched on hope in the blog entry about serving a life sentence.  But I would like to address love in this blog.   The many expressions of love I experienced this week have buoyed me up.   I was speechless as so many reached out in love to me.  A friend built a beautiful water feature in our back yard as I lay in the hospital.  Another friend I haven’t seen for several years called to assure me of his prayers and desire to come see me.   Another young man took time from his vacation to come by and pray for me.

            But when I think back, this week is really no different than most weeks.  My church family surrounds me with assurances of their love constantly.  My children tell me of their love regularly.  My grand children also express their love for me in some amazing ways.  And my dear wife of 46 years tells me she loves me every day.

            As grateful as I am of all these assurances of love from people, I have to say I have been most surprised by the depth of love I have felt from my Father in heaven.  I have known the Lord all my life.  I never went out into a life-style of rebellion.  But growing up in the Family of God all my life, I got used to God’s love and probably even took His love for granted.   I don’t think I really appreciated the depth and power of His love toward me until recently. 

            Taking time to be in His presence in a special way the last few weeks has opened up a whole new world to me.  I’ve always known God loved the whole world enough to send His Son to redeem it through His sacrifice on the cross.  And there have been moments when God’s Spirit broke through to me and I have had a revelation of God’s love that has overwhelmed me.  But there is something about walking through pain and trusting my Father in a whole new way that has opened up new realms of God’s love I never knew before.                                    

            Man was designed for intimacy with God.  It was the chief activity of Adam and Eve in the garden—to walk with Abba Father in the cool of the evening and just be with Him.  This surely is a lost art for most of us.  We are never silent long enough to hear Him speak.  If it is not the television, it is the ipod or the computer that fills our ears and minds with clutter.  This inability to be quiet before God creates a vacuum in our spirits that is not content with the noise of the world.  How long has it been since you took a half hour, turned off every appliance, read His Word and just listened?  That last part—listening—is the crucial part.  Even our daily time in God’s Word can be cluttered with thoughts and “insights” that, valuable as they are in themselves, still do not satisfy that place in the heart that can only be filled with focused intimacy with Father God who loves you.  This is one of the things He is looking for:  Jesus said there will even be those who call themselves by His Name, but who will be turned away because they never “knew” Him.  And the Father earnestly seeks those who will worship Him.  Why?  Because He is a megalomaniac on steroids?  NO!  Because He knows that is what we are created for and what will fulfill us best.

            I urge you to take a new look at some old, familiar scriptures about the love of God.  Take out your concordance and begin looking up every scripture that mentions God’s love for us.  Of course, start with John 3:16, but really meditate on the profound depth of that verse.  So often our view of Abba Father gets tainted by the world that looks at God as a tyrannical judge who can’t wait to mete out punishment.  But the point of verse 17 is that Jesus didn’t come for that purpose—He came to show us God’s love.

            Have you ever thought about how close Jesus is to His Father?  Is there anything they wouldn’t or couldn’t share?  What do you think their time together looks like?  John 17 holds one of the most amazing promises of the entire Bible:  Jesus says of you and me: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them that they may be one, just as We are one;  I in them and You in Me that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me."

            Amazing!  God the Father, Creator of the universe, Eternal Lord of all, loves you just as He loves Jesus, His Son.  Stop and consider that.  Love is at the core of your existence and it comes from your Father God.  Have you taken time to just soak in His love?  If you find it hard to accept that love because of past hurts in your life, ask Holy Spirit to heal those wounded areas so that you can live in this reality of God’s love.

            Now faith, hope and love abide, but the greatest of these is love.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

What is Faith? part 2.

            I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what the Lord has been teaching me about faith in my prior blog entry.  I won’t try to repeat all those points here.  You can go read Part 1 if you’re interested.

            What more can I say about faith?  One point I mentioned earlier was that faith is a gift from God.  God gives to each person a measure of faith and it is up to us to increase the “size” of that faith by taking in large doses of God’s Word, because that is God’s conduit to increase our faith.  I’m not sure what “big faith” looks like compared to “little faith”.   Rather, I tend to think of faith in terms of how effective that faith is. 

            Now that brings up a crucial point.  If I have “effective” faith, does that mean I always get what I am believing for?   This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in this journey I’m on.  No, I don’t believe that you can measure my faith’s effectiveness by whether I'm healed instantly, something I have asked God to do.  If we measure faith by our "instant results mentality", over half of those people listed in the great “Faith Hall of Fame”, Hebrews 11, should not have been included in that list because they did not get what they were believing God for.  So what was the mark of their faith that qualified them as great examples of Biblical faith?

            I believe what qualified them as great faith people was the impact God’s promises had on their outlook on life.  They heard God say something, and it forever transformed how they would approach daily living.  They spent the rest of their lives living in the confidence that God was going to do whatever He had promised them He would do.  It totally changed the way they lived their lives.  They lived from a place of faith, of trust, of confidence in God.

            This is a major paradigm shift for me.  I believe that God is going to totally heal me of cancer.  I believe He has given my wife and me the promise that cancer has been cancelled.  If you replace the “r” in cancer with an “l”, you have the word “cancel” and the last two letters of that word, “-el” is the name of God.  When El shows up, cancer is cancelled.

            What this has done for me is to change the way I look at every day.  I am coming at today from a stance of “faith” that God is healing me.  Now I know that many other people have claimed the same “faith” that God was healing them and instead of the dramatic turn around toward health, they worsened and died.  What if that is true in my case?  What if I get steadily worse and finally succumb to the ravages of cancer?  I will still say that standing in faith made a dramatic difference in my life because I lived my life from a paradigm of believing God is for me, loves me, and is with me.  It gave me hope every morning when I got out of bed.  It kept the demons of fear away.  I eagerly looked for God’s fresh Word of encouragement each day.  Instead of dwelling in fear with each new round of pain, I turn to God's Word--and not once does He say in His Word that sickness is His judgment on me and I should just succumb to it.

            So what is faith?  For me, faith is suddenly making the connection between Matt.  8:16-17 and  Is. 53:4-6.  This one revelation has done more to build my faith than almost anything else.  Many people say Isaiah was talking about “spiritual healing” and that our redemption is the focus of Is. 53:4-6.  They exclude physical healing and spiritualize those words “infirmities” and “diseases” to mean spiritual disease, sin.  But Matthew, under the inspiration of Holy Spirit, does not give us that interpretation.  Matthew clearly connects Isaiah’s prophesy with the physical healing Jesus was doing.  His interpretation of the words “infirmities” and “diseases” cannot be “spiritualized”.  Jesus was literally fulfilling Isaiah’s prophesy by the physical healings he performed.

            When I saw that application by Matthew, my own faith took a giant leap forward.  Now I expect God to heal my body, just as he healed lepers, blind people, etc,   I believe I will see God’s complete healing in my body.  And until He does, my attitude about today  is one saturated with faith, excited to see what all God is going to do in me and through me.  For me, faith is a change of attitude, expectation, and confidence in the character of God as a compassionate God Who can’t wait to send His Word and heal people.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Faith is....

            What is Faith? 

            Faith is so basic to our relationship with God.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  So how does one go about getting faith?

            Faith is a gift God gives every person. 

            Faith grows by hearing the Word of God.

            Faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


            Okay, so much for the standard Sunday School answers and stuff I memorized in seminary.  The battle I’m currently in with cancer has taught me more about what real faith is than all the theology classes I attended put together. 

            Several years ago I attended a conference in the Mid-West, just after I had been diagnosed with my first bout with cancer.  The attendees were so gracious to pray for me as a group.  I was in a great deal of pain at the time, and in fact had to use a wheel chair to navigate the airport going and coming from Central Oregon.  Toward the end of the conference, one of the brothers “had a word for me from the Lord”, which he had taken time to write out on paper.  I was glad he had transcribed it as I would never have been able to remember everything he “shared” with me.  Boiled down from about four, long pages, the message was pretty clear and simple:  “Brother Wes, if you had enough faith, you wouldn’t be suffering this pain and you would already be healed.”  Clear. Simple. To the point!

            That was like being dunked with a bucket of ice-cold Gatoraide (I guess—having never had the joy of that experience either.)  Suddenly all the bouyancy I had felt as the several dozen other senior leaders had lifted me before God’s Throne in faith that God would heal me was, if not gone, at least greatly diminished.  I came back to Central Oregon sobered by the contrast between the precious spirit of encouragement I felt from the leaders of the conference with this one critical brother who seemed to have “all the answers”.

            In the seven years since that time, I have had many other opportunities to think and pray about what faith really is.  Is real faith: “I refuse to be in pain because that is a symptom from the Devil”?  No, because I’ve been through enough pain to know it is not a figment of last nights’ nightmare.

            Is real faith just taking the Word of God and repeating it over and over, ten-thousand times over, until the pain just gives up and goes away because it can’t stand to hear me say one more time:  “BY HIS STRIPES I AM HEALED”?

            Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not making fun of standing on the Word of God for healing.  Anyone close to me, especially my family, know that is not in my heart.

But the Word of God does play an important part in obtaining healing from God.  How else would we know that God wants to heal us unless we saw it in His Word?  Before I began this long battle with cancer, I could quote three, maybe four scriptures about healing—you know, all the favorites:  Is. 53:4,5, Mark 16:18 and I Peter (or is it James) 4:14 about any among you sick calling the elders to lay hands on the sick and the Lord will raise him up…”  (It is James.  I just looked it up.  Again.)

            But when I was faced with a health crisis that laid me flat on my back for two months with another 3 months before I could return to work, I got serious about finding out what God had to say about this “faith for healing” thing.  I ended up with three type written, single spaced pages of God’s direct words about healing. 

            Did you know “Healing” is one of His names?  Jehovah Rapha.  He likes to be called that. 

            Did you know that it was the compassion of Jesus that prompted Him to heal those who came to Him in faith?  And that He didn’t even have to be aware of their need for His GREAT COMPASSION to flow out and heal a woman who simply had faith to believe she would be healed of a 12 year flow of blood if she could simply touch the fringes of his garment through the crowd?

            What is faith?  For me, a working definition is:  Coming to a place where I know what God’s will is and then holding on to that no matter what—in the face of overwhelming odds.  This, of course, involves being immersed in the Bible so I can know God’s mind and heart on a given thing.  It also involves listening carefully to Holy Spirit so that I correctly understand the issues at hand.  Then it is standing on the confidence that I have heard from God and He will act on my behalf.         

            What is faith?  I feel like I’m just learning to scratch the surface.  Enough for this installment—maybe more another time.  All I know is, I want to please my Abba in Heaven.  For today, I choose to believe His Word is true, active, dividing between my places of unbelief—strengthening me in those places where I am weak.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your faithfulness!